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South America Destination Guide

West Falkland

In the South Atlantic Ocean, 300 miles (500km) east of Argentine Patagonia, the Falkland Islands consist of two large islands and many smaller ones. (In this chapter, the islands will be referred to as Falkland islands, as they are internationally recognized. It should be noted, however, that the official Argentine name is Islas Malvinas.) Bays, inlets, estuaries and beaches create a tortuous, attractive coastline that is home to abundant wildlife, Indeed, the islands' variety of breeding birds is one of the main visitor attractions. The main town on these desolate islands is Stanley, a stretch of metal clad houses with brightly painted corrugated metal roofs and large kitchen gardens, contrasting with the surrounding moorland.

Outside of Stanley is 'camp' as the rest of the Falklands is so fondly called. Camp settlements began as company towns (hamlets near sheltered harbors where coastal shipping could collect wool). Most of camp on Fast Falkland is accessible by road, as is most of West Falkland, while more remote corners, and the numerous smaller islands, can be reached only by expensive Rights. Such isolated places teem with wildlife and offer some incredible adventures, which can be enjoyed while staying at lodges or farmhouse style B&Bs, or roughing it in cargo like lodging.

Falklanders often welcome strangers for 'Smoko,' the traditional midmorning tea or coffee break, or for a drink. Bringing along a small gift (rum is a favorite) is a warmly welcomed way to thank the people for their hospitality.

Falklands War Argentina had persistently claimed the Falklands since 1833, but successive British governments were slow to publicly acknowledge the claim's seriousness. By 1971, however, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) gave Argentina roles in air transport, fuel supplies, shipping and even immigration. Islanders and their UK supporters thought the agreement ominous, and suspected the FCO of secretly arranging transfer of the Islands. This process dragged on for a decade, during which Argentina's brutal 'Dirty War' gave Islanders more reason for concern.

In Argentina, military troops had prepared to battle Chile for rights to islands in Tierra del Fuego. Shots were never fired, but General Leopoldo Galtieri, facing pressure from Argentines fed up with corruption, economic chaos and totalitarian ruthlessness, decided to take advantage of the situation and sent the military to invade the Falklands on April 2, 1982. Seizure of the Islands briefly united Argentina, but Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, herself in shaky political circumstances, sent a naval task force to retake the territory. Experienced British ground troops routed illtrained, poorly supplied Argentine conscripts; Argentina's surrender averted Stanley's destruction.

Relations between the two countries remain cool, although the joint statement issued by the United Kingdom, Falkland Island and Argentine Government on July 14, 1999, promises closer cooperation on areas of mutual interest, such as fisheries Gold and hydrocarbon exploration. A scheduled were air link has now been established via San Chile, and immigration restrictions on Argentines relaxed.

Falklands War
Stanley
East Falkland
West Falkland

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